Arbaʿeen: bigger than ever

Arbaʿeen, for those who aren’t familiar, is the second Shiʿa holy day that is centered on the Battle of Karbala, and thus the death of the early Shiʿa leader Husayn b. Ali, in 680. The first, Ashura, is commemorated on the day (per the Islamic calendar) of the battle, while Arbaʿeen (Arabic for “forty”) occurs… Continue reading Arbaʿeen: bigger than ever

The Iran-Saudi pilgrimage dispute has historical precedent

Originally posted on and that's the way it was:
Iran has barred its citizens from traveling to Saudi Arabia to perform the Umrah, or lesser pilgrimage to Mecca, which is the recommended-but-not-obligatory pilgrimage that can be performed any time (as opposed to the obligatory Hajj, which has to be performed during the annual Hajj).…

Arbaʿeen

Amid all the San Bernardino news, I almost forgot that today is (or really was, at this point) Arbaʿeen (there are some great photos at that link). This is a Shiʿa religious observance that occurs forty days (hence the name, arbaʿin, which is Arabic for “forty”) after Ashura, the commemoration of the day when Imam… Continue reading Arbaʿeen

The Iran-Saudi pilgrimage dispute has historical precedent

Iran has barred its citizens from traveling to Saudi Arabia to perform the Umrah, or lesser pilgrimage to Mecca, which is the recommended-but-not-obligatory pilgrimage that can be performed any time (as opposed to the obligatory Hajj, which has to be performed during the annual Hajj). Ostensibly, Iranian authorities are reacting to a report that two… Continue reading The Iran-Saudi pilgrimage dispute has historical precedent

Islamic pilgrimage

The Hajj is about to take place this weekend, the largest organized pilgrimage in the world. It is easily the most important Islamic pilgrimage and the only one that is required of all believers who are physically and financially able to perform it at least once in their lives. But other significant Islamic pilgrimages and… Continue reading Islamic pilgrimage